Skip to main content


Global China Research Centre Graduate and Early-Career Research Seminar Series

ExGCRC Seminar

Event details


'The Construction of Imagined Communities through Bilibili Danmu Commentaries: Case Studies of Year Hare Affair and Yao-Chinese Folktales'

Bilibili is a popular Chinese video-streaming platform featuring a Danmu commentary system. Research on Danmu has been widely conducted by scholars from the field of new media, discourse and digital culture. The recent scholarship pays more attention to how Bilibili Danmu constructs bottom-up digital identity and fan communities. This article focuses on how youth Bilibili users apply the digital practice in relation to collective expressions reflecting the concept of “imagined communities”. Furthermore, this research explores the discursive texts of commentaries in which users can respond to their national and cultural identity on Bilibili. Drawing on Year Hare Affair (2015-2019) and Yao-Chinese Folktales (2023), this research conducted qualitative, discourse analysis to address digital interaction with content videos and other commenters. The results suggest that youth users applied cultural references in their written commentaries, informing their cultural identities. Bilibili users also utilise word manipulation to articulate their ideas in an entertaining and engaging manner. Therefore, this article argues that the content and discourse of the Danmu commentaries on selected videos and plots demonstrate the influence of state-navigated nationalist sentiments. The responses shared in Danmu bullet comments not only constitute a form of digital nationalism, shaped partly by the values and interests of the Chinese state government, but also create more grass roots expressions of “imagined communities”, cultural identity and a sense of belonging. This paper presents a cultural approach to studying the latest online commentaries of videos related to Chinese animation on Bilibili, which contributes to a better understanding of the status quo of digital culture and associated nationalist zeal.

Chinese Opera Film——The Heterogeneous Presence in the Topography of World Early Cinema

The term ‘Early Cinema’ is used mainly in Western cinema academia to refer to films released between 1985 and 1917, often referred to as the ‘Pre-classical Hollywood Period.’ This concept of ‘Early Cinema’ is not only a concept of time but also a distinct period of cinema’s history and its ideology.1 According to Tom Gunning, early cinema cannot simply be seen as a primitive state of cinema, nor can we regard the process of developing and perfecting cinema’s aesthetic language as a natural interpretation of how it gradually developed from ‘primitive’ to ‘complete’ under the influence of ‘genius’, nor can we overstate the influence of the theatre to suggest that we are simply moving from ‘theatrical’ to ‘cinematic’ narratives.2 However, It has to be admitted that the complexity and heterogeneity of ‘early cinema’ require more dimensional interpretations under the world cinema map, as well as a constant quest for theoretical and boundary breakthroughs.

My paper examines early Chinese locally-made films through the lens of ‘genre’, focusing on the special one which has a high level of indigenous cultural prominence and also was influenced by a new film culture in the early twentieth century—Chinese Opera Film. In contrast to the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Western cinema’s preoccupation with the ‘primitive’ mode of early cinema, the new lineage of film historiography is more concerned with “film language as an utterance significantly shaped by meaning-making processes situated ‘outside’ the films themselves.”3 On account of this, I am not only interested in the generation of ‘contingent’ and ‘heterogeneous’ narrative models in Chinese silent cinema, but also expect to locate the ‘advancing interpretive models capable of juggling the intricacies of film form relative to the plurality of its adjacent discourses.’4 Thus, ‘intermediality’-- the relationship between cinema and traditioned and newly-emerged adapted theatre, legends and folk beliefs -- will be used as a research method. As Janet Bergstrom claimed, “‘cultural studies’ has come to be used so broadly that it can encompass almost any approach or subject matter and sometimes functions as a levelling device.’’5 Due to the absence of early cinema texts, which is particularly prominent in China, I consequently must also choose to explore the geographical map of early Chinese cinema from a deeper cultural space.

Sharpay Wu, University of Canberra. 'The Construction of Imagined Communities through Bilibili Danmu Commentaries: Case Studies of Year Hare Affair and Yao-Chinese Folktales'.

Baoqi Liu, University of Southampton. 'Chinese Opera Film——The Heterogeneous Presence in the Topography of World Early Cinema'.


Old Library 130